Michael J. Fox says he turned down role in 'Ghost'

·2 min read

Though he's had an amazing career filled with TV and movie success, Michael J. Fox lives with a few Hollywood regrets — like turning down a role in the blockbuster film "Ghost."

“I didn’t see how it would work,” Fox, 61, told Variety. “It shows I can be an idiot too.”

By 1990, the Emmy winner’s hit NBC sitcom, “Family Ties,” ended after seven seasons, and the “Back to the Future” trilogy had wrapped. Not long after turning down “Ghost,” Fox appeared in a few notable flops, including “Life with Mikey” and “For Love or Money.”

By that point, he explained, Fox was prioritizing hefty paychecks over good parts thanks to his then-secret 1991 diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. “It’s such a s----- disease,” said Fox. “I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to deal with it. It didn’t fit my story. I just shut down.”

But things worked out just fine for “Ghost.” That part Fox rejected? It went to Patrick Swayze. The late actor made movie magic playing Sam, a murdered banker who protects his lover, Molly, played by Demi Moore.

 (AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo)
MOORE,SWAYZE, GHOST, 1990 (AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo)

In 2015, Bruce Joel Rubin, the movie’s Oscar-winning screenwriter, opened up about casting the role of Sam for an anniversary story on "Ghost" published in Vanity Fair.

The filmmakers, said Rubin, “went to every major actor in Hollywood who was hot at the time.” Who turned down the part? “Everybody. Harrison Ford said, ‘I read this thing three times and I still don’t get it.’ Michael J. Fox, Paul Hogan, on and on, we kept getting turned down.”

Rubin said he had a hunch that actors “didn’t want to play dead men ... they all saw it as a loss of vitality.”

Producer Jerry Zucker held out hope that "Ghost" would find the perfect male lead, but Rubin told VF “finally there wasn’t anybody. ... When Patrick said yes, he basically saved the movie.”

Zucker's confidence in "Ghost" paid off. On opening weekend in July 1990, he called Rubin to tell him that the movie had “sold out everywhere."

"Ghost" was still red-hot at the box-office by mid-September. "And we were still playing in theaters six months later at Christmas,” said Rubin.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com